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September 15, 2020

NASHVILLE, TENN – TennSMART, a statewide consortium of public and private organizations working to advance intelligent mobility solutions in Tennessee, today launched the Automotive & Mobility Mentor Network. The program pairs mentors with promising new companies through a structured, stage-gate process involving panel presentations and one-on-one mentoring sessions. The purpose of the program is to develop quality startups and grow the automotive, transportation, and mobility sectors in the state.

The Automotive & Mobility Mentor Network is an expansion of Launch Tennessee’s successful Mentor Networks program, which also has networks in the life science and energy industries. The addition of the automotive vertical is a testament to the scale of the industry in Tennessee. According to the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development, Tennessee’s automotive industry employs more than 120K people in 88 of 95 counties.

“TennSMART is proud to partner with LaunchTN to run the Automotive & Mobility Mentor Network,” said Dr. Claus Daniel, board president, TennSMART, and Director of Applied Energy Programs, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). “We established this consortium in order to connect the smart mobility sector in Tennessee and bring automotive, intelligent mobility, and energy efficient technologies to market for improved transportation. We look forward to furthering this goal by mentoring entrepreneurs who play such a vital role in our state’s innovation economy.”

TennSMART’s varied, statewide membership—ranging from automotive manufacturing and supply chains to fleet management and autonomy—will enable it to match startups to all types of companies, which will ensure entrepreneurs are getting access that will help them scale. Current TennSMART members include stakeholders in the automotive and trucking industries, software and hardware suppliers, municipalities and utilities providers, engineers and consultants, and leading academic and research institutions.

The program will be directed by Gary Rawlings who has extensive experience helping companies validate their advanced technology and take it from the lab to the market. Rawlings currently supports the Innovation Crossroads program at ORNL.

“With regulations and supply chain issues, it can be difficult for auto startups to break through and make connections to the industry,” said Van Tucker, interim CEO, LaunchTN. “We’re thrilled to offer a way for startups to bring their innovations before industry experts and believe that TennSMART’s broad view of intelligent mobility will open doors for all kinds of exciting companies.”

The Automotive & Mobility Mentor Network is seeking companies who are developing transportation technologies and experts, including TennSMART members, to serve as mentors following a training. For more information and to apply to the program as either a company or mentor, click here.

About TennSMART

TennSMART is a public-private consortium encompassing a growing number of organizations working together to assess, develop, and deploy new intelligent mobility innovations that could change how America transports people and goods. The consortium serves as a forum for organizations to share knowledge and leverage resources related to connected and autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, cybersecurity, freight efficiency, and multi-modal commuting. TennSMART members also engage governments, academic institutions, and industry about the importance of investment in smart mobility technologies and their role in job creation, as well as position Tennessee as a model for other states. For more information, visit


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